Friday October 16th, 2009

Professional gasbag Rush Limbaugh has predictably blamed the left, the media and the Rev. Al Sharpton (another professional gasbag, by the way), among others, for his being dropped from the ownership group that is attempting to purchase the St. Louis Rams. Huffing and puffing with self-importance, the Ruler of the Radio Right sees dire menace in his situation, which in his words "is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we're going to have."

I'm not sure at this writing whether Limbaugh has subsequently predicted the actual date that our republic will go down in flames as a result of his having been barred from joining this particular men's club.

In point of fact, however, l'affaire Limbaugh -- which was inarguably a public relations disaster for the group that first invited him, and then disowned him -- exemplifies two quintessential realities of America, ones that I have to assume Limbaugh himself embraces. Namely:

• When you become a business liability, your once-chummy fellow businessmen will turn on you.

• Actions have consequences.

The idea that the left or somebody like Sharpton speaks for the NFL or the individuals trying to buy the Rams is beyond laughable. There was only one reason Limbaugh was told by Dave Checketts, the chairman of the NHL's St. Louis Blues and the leader of the potential ownership group, that he wasn't wanted: He imperiled their bid. Checketts and his group weren't listening to Sharpton -- does anybody listen to the Rev. Al anymore? They were listening to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who expressed public doubts about Limbaugh's involvement. They were listening to several players who had spoken out against Limbaugh. They were listening to the players' union, which had concerns. And they were listening to NFL owners, who, as a group, embrace political controversy with the same warmth that Limbaugh embraces, say, Nancy Pelosi.

No, Limbaugh was a red flag, trouble from the start, which Checketts (who in the past has been a sharp guy) and his group should've realized. Why? Not because Limbaugh is a political conservative, a designation that no doubt describes the great majority of NFL owners (and probably owners in all the major sports). But because when, given the chance, he devolves into a race-baiting provocateur.

Limbaugh has every right to suggest that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb gets a pass because coaches and the media are invested in having a black quarterback do well. He has every right to evoke the Bloods and the Crips when talking about an NFL game. (And, yes, I've heard him do it for all those who claim he's never done it.) He has every right to say that "in Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering," as he did recently, thus making an ugly school-bus fight even uglier. He has every right to make his subtle, race-baiting digs that have gone a long way to divide America. But he has no right to expect that he won't be held accountable for those opinions.

And that's why his would-be playmates have every right to say they don't want to play with him anymore.

In contrast to what he and his fellow right-wing bloviators are now claiming, the exclusion of Limbaugh couldn't be more in the American tradition.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.